Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Iceland 2014: Part 1

The long awaited post is here! Every year, my family, or should I say, my Brother and his friend Edmund will plan a long trip for us. And this year, we have selected an exotic and scenic destination that you guys should already know since the title has the location's name... Okay! I am really excited to share my experience with you guys and without further ado, let me give you an insight of I-C-E-L-A-N-D!!

2nd Oct, Changi Airport, Terminal 1
Dinner at Paradise Inn before catching our flight. By the way, 99% of the pictures will be taken using Edmund's Sony A6000 Camera.
Unfortunately, my sis and hubby wouldn't be joining us... :( Family photo with them before departing!

Day 1, Helsinki, Glo Airport Hotel
After a 11+HR flight with Finnair, we reached Helsinki! Had a 9HR transit time so we decided to book 2 rooms at the airport hotel. Our room was a little squeezy for 3 people and something random, there was a gap when you close the toilet's door! I'm an insecure person so when I'm doing my 'business', I kept reminding my parents not to peep at me... HAHA! Weather at Helsinki that day: 8 to 14 degrees An example of an Instagram Addict. Grabbed some food at a cafe called "Picnic" since I don't eat on planes. Ordered a simple Bagel for myself.

Grocery Shopping at "Alepa"
Surprised that they sold Thailand instant noodles here! Who cried for wolf? Magnum Flavours which you can only find in Finland.

Lunch at Cesar's Pizza & Food Court (Not sure if I got the name correctly)
Parents ate the pizza And we ate the Salmon Burger with wedges. Delicious~ Waiting to board our next plane, Icelandair. Bird-eye view of Iceland itself has already won our hearts~
FINALLY, Keflavik International Airport
After another 3+HR flight, we reached our holiday destination! [Hops around] My bro and Ed arranged a customised (we proposed our own itinerary) private tour package with this particular company called Fun Travel <= Website link here . The boss offered us a reasonable price for 11 days guided tour and it includes a private mini-van that could fit 5 person comfortably with luggages, accommodation with private bathrooms and dinner. However, the price varies according to the season and well, we went during the low peak season! By the way, our tour guide was the boss, himself. Name: Jens Olafsson.
Driving towards Reykjavik, the capital and largest city of Iceland. Guess what? We found Fun Travel through TripAdvisor!
Reykjavik, Kalli's Apartments
Our very first guesthouse in Iceland! The rooms were clean, neat with comfortable beds and cool decor. Most importantly, FREE WIFI. Guys had the Living room... AND I got a room to myself! [wink] Lucky ME~ They do provide towels but not shampoo and body wash. A kitchen which has all the necessary utensils and an electric kettle. WARNING: The HOT water in Reykjavik has strong sulphur smell. You can smell it when you're bathing and if you intend to boil water, use the COLD water instead. Taking a look at my parent's room. Entrance to our apartment. We will start our guided tour next day. Therefore, dinner = settle ourselves. Curious little thing Hungry Mum = Angry Mum :x Harpa, a concert hall and conference centre. It was hard not to notice this award-winning building situated at the old harbour.
Dinner, Sægreifinn – The Sea Baron Restaurant
A small old fisherman's hut with limited tables but the food was affordable and tasty. You can have your choice of fresh seafood barbequed on skewers. Currency used in Iceland: Icelandic króna. But most shops in Iceland do accept credit cards too. First up, Lobster soups with a basket of neatly lined (usually) Homemade breads. There was a queue at the counter when we left. Phew! Good thing that we went early. Searching for a nearby supermarket that was still OPEN at around 7+pm. Yeah, shops closes early in Iceland. Then, we ended up at Netto21. Looking for food that we could whip out for next morning breakfast~ The MUST-EAT snack in Iceland, Skyr! It is an Icelandic cultured dairy product, similar to yogurt and it has been a part of Icelandic cuisine for over a thousand years!

Day 2, Kalli's Apartment, Breakfast
Bought cereal, Skyr & a cool-looking Milk. Both of us had... Swollen Faces in the morning! Dammit! Waiting for Jens (Pronounce as Yens) to pick us up.
Our Adventure Starts Now!
Icelandic Whaling Vessels :(

First Location: Hallgrímskirkja, Church of Hallgrímur
Your reaction now: WTH?! How do they even read the name? YEAP! I have the same exact reaction. Trust me, the only attraction in Iceland that I went to and was able to pronounce it properly was... "BLUE LAGOON". SURPRISE! Situated in the centre of Reykjavík, it is one of the city's best-known landmarks and is visible throughout the city. Hallgrímskirkja, a Lutheran (<= A Denomination) parish church, is the largest church and the sixth tallest architectural structure in Iceland. The design of the church resembles the basalt lava flows of Iceland's landscape. Yes, I know it's a little blurry but I like it~ The church houses a large pipe organ by a German organ builder Johannes Klais of Bonn.
Second Location: Perlan, The Pearl
Another landmark building in Reykjavik which is situated on the hill Öskjuhlíð. Head up to the viewing deck to take a Panoramic view of Reykjavik city! Yes, a cloudy and rainy day ahead of us. Thanks, wind! Thanks for helping me centre-part my hair! Arghh. (My hair parting only got worse throughout the trip) Hungry boys ordering a little something to share It started to snow when we drove along this road.
Second Location, Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park Þingvellir is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland and it is the site of a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The park is home to the world's longest running Parliament (first established in 930 AD) and Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland. Judging from our action, expression and how my dad wore his hoodie cap, you can roughly guess how cold the weather was. Ha! Let me tell you, the wind is the 'killer'. Notice the wet floor? It was drizzling as well. Walking along Þingvellir Rift Valley Cold weather turned my dad into a Ninja Turtle! Pardon the blurry dots. Rain kept splattering onto the camera lens so a few of our photos were being 'attacked' by them. By the way, Þingvellir is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Do you guys know about the Golden Circle Route in Iceland? It is a popular tourist route in South Iceland, covering about 300km looping from Reykjavík into central Iceland and back. So here you have one of the primary stops of the route! Transparent bluish water~ You can see coins reflecting from beneath.

Third Location: Gullfoss Restaurant & Cafe
Had our lunch here before visiting some of the most amazing attractions in Iceland. Traditional Icelandic Lamb soup with bread and butter. It comes with free refill as well. Chicken Panino. According to Ed, the hot chocolate was gooooood~

Fourth Location, Gullfoss Waterfall
The Second primary stop of the Golden Circle route. Gullfoss, also known as "Golden Falls", is an iconic waterfall located in the canyon of Hvítá river in southwest Iceland. These were taken at the top viewing platform. Spectacular view of water plummeting down 32 meters in two stages into a rugged canyon which walls reach up to 70 meters in height. Walked along a footpath and reached an area where we were in a close proximity with the waterfall. The path can be a little slippery so watch your steps. We have the mighty river right behind us! It is included in the Golden Circle Route for a reason! A picturesque spot where everybody should visit when you're in Iceland!

Fifth location, Geysers in Haukadalur
Geyser is a spring characterized by intermittent discharge of water ejected turbulently and accompanied by steam. Generally all geyser field sites are located near active volcanic areas, and the geyser effect is due to the proximity of magma. Blesi(The Blazer) is a hot spring, consisting of two closely located ponds and they are considered to be the most beautiful looking feature there.

Strokkur, erupting approximately every 10 to 20 minutes at 15 to 20m high. Sometimes, it may even go up to 40m high!

Basically, surface water works its way down to an average depth of around 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) where it contacts hot rocks. The resultant boiling of the pressurized water results in the geyser effect of hot water and steam spraying out of the geyser's surface vent (a hydrothermal explosion). Litli Geysir(The Small Geysir) status: Inactive. Used to be an active geyser in 1855 and 1871 alongside with Geysir and Strokkur. The third primary spot of Golden Circle Route, checked! It was definitely an interesting sight to witness since they are a fairly rare phenomenon which exist in only a few places on Earth. We were so excited when we first heard the sound of the powerful hot stream gushing out from the ground!

Sixth Location: Urriðafoss
Iceland's most voluminous waterfall, Urriðafoss. It is a waterfall located in the river Þjórsá in southwest Iceland. Not a single person was spotted at this destination. Either people just bypass it or not many of them know of this place I guess? Urriðafoss is not as popular as Gullfoss but it was equally impressive because of the width and volume! No regrets visiting Urriðafoss at all!

Checked into Hótel Fljótshlíð (Countryhotel Smaratun)
Picking out an Icelandic beer to try... And we chose "Viking Gylltur". Homemade bread, Mushroom Soup with Whip Cream and Main Course (Lamb). Dinner was so satisfying that we had high expectation for the following dinners that Jens had arranged. Mmmmm~

I shall stop here before I overkill this post! In the upcoming post, we will be traveling to Vik to do some 'crazy' recreation activity! Well~ You just gotta wait and see! And feel free to drop me any questions/feedbacks!

[[SIGNING OFF]]

4 comments:

  1. this is a great travelogue. i will use it to help me plan my itinerary. thanks for the pics!

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    1. No problem edgy dad! glad that it helps! :)

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  2. Fantastic. How do you do this that this blog is so good?
    private tour Helsinki

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    1. Hi! Thanks for the compliment!! Well, good camera and good editing skills I guess? But there's always room for improvements! :)

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